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Behavioural training: How to manage an irate end customer?

March 20th, 2019

customer service, relationship, clients, end-customer

It is common knowledge that putting the customer at the centre and keeping them happy is important to the success of any business. But there are times when things go wrong, and customers can become unhappy or even angry. However, a dissatisfied customer doesn’t necessarily have to result in irreversible damage to a company. Depending upon how you handle it, this situation can even become an opportunity to further build customer loyalty and satisfaction. This is an important reason why behavioural training is so important.

Trying to calm down a customer involves seeing the situation from their side which can help you learn a lot about the customer and improve your services accordingly. Learning how to deal with these customers effectively is an important tool in building customer relationships and can help you improve your business. Here are a few ways to do this:

Listen carefully and don’t respond immediately 

When we experience backlash from customers, our first response is to immediately reciprocate their feelings. But the best thing to do when faced with an angry customer is to remain calm and avoid retaliating to the customer’s comments.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, try to diffuse the situation by remaining calm and tactful. You can make a neutral statement like, “let’s discuss what happened” or, “kindly let me know what the situation is.” This will help you create a bond with the customer and let them know that you are willing to listen. It is a far better approach than jumping to conclusions and trying to solve the problem right away, which will only increase stress levels.

Diffuse the situation with questions

Adopting a defensive strategy is a standard response to anger but it serves no purpose and may only anger the customer more. Using facts alone to justify your position rarely works in your favour to diffuse a situation. But self-affirmation and making your customers feel good about themselves will.

So how can you apply this when dealing with irate customers?

A behavioural training method that has been known to work is the questioning technique. This is when you ask the customer to explain the problem in detail and then ask follow-up questions to get a better picture of the situation at hand. Asking questions will make the customers feel as though they are being taken seriously while simultaneously decreasing their anger levels. Reducing this combative emotion will lead the customer to a more rational state, making it easier to reason with them. Learning how to diffuse a situation efficiently is an important reason why behavioural training is important.

Let go of any fear you may have 

The fear of a negative outcome or a bad situation drives most of the anger in our reactions. When faced with a difficult customer, we are often afraid to challenge them because we are afraid of risking our relationship with the customer. This is worsened by the fear that we may not be able to fix the problem.

When dealing with the customer, it is crucial to understand that your job is only to listen to the customer, understand the situation and then decide what the next steps should be. Producing a solution is not an immediate goal when dealing with an unhappy customer. You should validate the problem by saying, “I am aware how this is affecting you and we will work diligently towards rectifying this error”.

Break down the problem

This behavioural training method is commonly known as ‘chunking’. It is the process of breaking down a big problem into much smaller, sizable portions so that they become more manageable. Dealing with the issue in smaller parts is much easier than dealing with them as a whole. In addition to chunking down the problem, you can also break down the solution into smaller parts. Taking the time to solve the customer’s issue serves two purposes, it makes it easier for the customer to understand the solution while making them feel valued by the company as they take time to solve their problem.

Understand that anger is a natural emotion

It is important to understand that anger is a natural emotion. When things don’t go our way or we are faced with an unexpected hindrance, it is only normal to feel this emotion. Research shows that anger is an emotion that is naturally wired into our systems and is a form of bargaining- that is, asking the person to place a higher value on what we have to offer.

When faced with an angry customer, it is only normal to find the need to justify your position and jump to conclusions- but this is not the right move. When you have chunked the information and asked enough questions to improve your understanding of the problem, you should reiterate your agreement of their frustration and thank them for communicating it with you. You should then let them know that you will get back to them with a solution soon. Often times, having no immediate solution will give the customer time to cool off, giving you time to reach out to your managers for an optimal solution. Learning to deal with customer’s emotions proactively is an important reason why behavioural training is important.

Use their feedback to improve processes

When speaking to angry customers, it’s important to understand the root cause of their frustration and check if there’s any validity to it. Angry customers help highlight any underlying issues with the company’s services that may be bothering other customers as well. Hence, although dealing with angry customers can be hard, it provides some useful feedback that can be used to make improvements. When dealing with irate customers don’t look at it as a negative thing but rather as a situation that can help your company for the better.

When customers have a bad experience, no amount of pleasantries or kind words will help placate them. However, the tips listed above can help you communicate with the customer in a more productive way and leave them feeling satisfied. Remember, your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

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